Santa Clara County Voter's Guide On Children's Issues

City of Palo Alto

Ajit Varma

I want Palo Alto to be the best place in the world to start and raise a family which means opportunities, safety, great schools, culture, open spaces, welcoming neighbors and people of diverse backgrounds. You and your family's dreams will be more achievable in Palo Alto than anywhere else.

  1. Taking into consideration the profound impact of COVID-19 and the expanded movement for racial justice and equity, what do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?

    1. Recovery from the impact of COVID-19. We need to ensure we as a city do all we can to reduce cases through social distancing enforcement, masks, and frequent testing. Once vaccinations become available we need easy access and distribution. We also need to ensure we help businesses get up and running and remove our policies that discourage new development and business growth.
    2. Ensuring everyone has the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Palo Alto should be welcome of all cultures and backgrounds. We should attract the best and brightest people from across the world by building a reputation of acceptance and meritocracy.
    3. Cost of living. We need to ensure that children and families can afford to live in Palo Alto by getting more housing into Palo Alto and making the changes to make that happen.

  2. How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?

    My main goal is to attract businesses in order to increase our tax base through sales taxes and property taxes. I want to cut inefficiences in how we spend money in Palo Alto and cut the waste but I definitely don't think we should cut vital services and rather we should invest more in our city.

  3. What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?

    I think the city has space in locations like Cubberley where we can setup up facilities to ensure everyone in our community has quality child care. High quality preschool programs and early childhood education have been shown through many research studies to be very important to the life long happiness and success of children. I think it's critical we work with organizations to ensure these services are available. I'd also like to find a way to provide these children healthcare services which will help ensure they are setup for equal opportunities.

  4. What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?

    Children with special needs will likely need more time and attention. I think the most important thing they can have is high quality and caring teachers so I would ensure we work with schools to make sure those resources exist. We also have some good playgrounds like Magical Bridge Playground that is a great example of inclusion and I think we should encourage more things like that and work with private organizations to make it happen.

  5. Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?

    We have many wealthy people in Palo Alto that spend significant amounts of their resources to providing access to these resources to children. I would work with them to make sure they see the value of investing close to home as well. If they are unable, I will work with our city resources to fin a way to make sure everyone has equal opportunities. It's very important to me that every child in Palo Alto has the same high probability of achieving their dreams regardless of the social or wealth status of their parents.